You might be trying to hire for an existing role, expand your team due to rapid growth or maybe you’re a one man band with plans to build a team. Across the industry accounting firms are dealing with the challenge of attracting (and retaining) top talent. Whatever your situation, if you’re planning to hire you need to consider your company culture and more specifically, build your employer brand.
Your core brand needs to attract and speak to your ideal audience while reflecting who you are as an accounting firm. You need a solid brand at the heart of all your marketing efforts. To understand this better read why branding is one of the most important things for an accountant to understand and check out this visual guide to why branding is important for accountants.
Your employer brand needs to attract and speak to your ideal team members. Your existing team needs to be able to connect to this and so do future team members. It is part of your core brand but more focused around your company culture pulling back the curtain, showing what it’s like internally.
Building your employer brand is crucial to attract and retain a strong team.
Even if you already have a well established brand, building your employer brand will require careful consideration and investment in both time and money. We’ve worked with several clients who have a strong core brand and it’s bringing them their ideal clients, which is great! They have the clients but the next challenge they face is having the right team to serve these amazing clients.
When you hire, you’re asking team members to buy into the culture and become part of your firm’s brand. You need to inspire and motivate them to want to work with you. Marketing to hire is different to attracting prospects and clients and involves taking the foundational elements of your brand, your values, your culture, your TOV and presenting them to a different set of people.
This doesn’t mean having a whole other set of values or changing the way you communicate with potential new hires. You want your team to connect with the same things as your prospects and clients. It simply means that the messaging may differ slightly.
Here’s an example of what this might look like from One Accounting. The core value remains the same but how it’s presented to the team and ideal audience is slightly different.
So how do you build an employer brand?
Here are some steps to help you build your employer brand:
1. Identify your unique company culture
Building a strong company culture is essential for fostering a positive work environment and achieving long-term success. Just think what would be possible if every team member was 100% on board and believed in your vision for the business.
This starts with knowing who you are at your core. When you dig into the core of who you are, that’s when you start developing an authentic company culture.
1. Vision and mission – Get clarity on your firm’s purpose and the direction you want to take the business. When expressed clearly and concisely, your vision and mission will motivate you and your existing or future team with an inspiring direction for the future of your firm. Take time to consider:
- Why does your accounting firm exist? I’ll bet the motivation to start or lead this firm was bigger than just making money. For help with this watch this TED Talk from Simon Sinek.
- Who and what do you exist for – Being specific about who you serve is key to the success of your business. When your existing and future team are passionate about helping the same type of people they are motivated and excited to come to work and create impact in the business.
- How do you/will you change your part of the world – The very wise and wonderful Nelson Mandela once stated “Action without vision is only passing time, vision without action is merely day dreaming, but vision with action can change the world.” Showing you have a plan to follow through with the vision is key to building trust and excitement with new hires and show that you really do mean what you say!
2. Values – Establish your core values and then lean into them. What you believe impacts the world around you: how you communicate and represent the brand, your approach to running your business and delivering your services. It will also help you to decide which prospects are (and aren’t) a fit. Clearly communicated values will help candidates see quickly if you are aligned with what they believe and they will be excited by the opportunity. Raedan’s 4 core values are at the heart of all decisions owner Jonathan makes in the business:
3. Tone Of Voice: Defining your TOV is key to living and expressing your values. It’s where people start to feel and believe your mission and values. Everything we say has the power to make people feel a certain way so it’s important to determine the words and phrases you use and don’t use. And more importantly the impression you leave with a potential new hire. It’s the trust builder showing you mean what you say.
If you’re missing some of these elements of your brand and need help to pull some of this out, Foundations is a great place to start.
2. Foster an attractive company culture
Once you’ve identified what your company culture is or want it to be, how do you make that true? If your values are really who you are at your core and you have clarity around how to express these values a lot of this will happen naturally.
Ideal candidates will be looking for some sort of connection to your firm. It’s important that they align with your mission and your firm’s philosophy and values and see themselves working alongside you and your existing team.
Show the causes you’re passionate about as a firm on your website through blogs and social media. Future team members want to see your:
- commitment to social and environmental causes
- engagement in community initiatives
- involvement in volunteer programs
- sustainability efforts
Many accountants can be shy about showing the wonderful things that they do to give back. This is exactly the type of thing that sets you apart and will get a passionate, engaged candidate excited about working with you.
When people see and feel you backup your mission and values with action you’ll build trust and help them see that you mean what you say and not just a ploy to get them in the door.
Here’s some examples of how some of our clients are highlighting this through their marketing:
Competitive compensation and benefits that align with your core beliefs will also be attractive to the right hire. This doesn’t just relate to salary. This could include retirement plans, flexible work arrangements, and professional development opportunities. It also looks like the promotion of a healthy work-life balance by providing flexible working, promotion of wellness in the form of gym memberships or mental health support. These all show that you value the well-being of your employees.
Providing opportunities for growth and development is also attractive to candidates. It shows the encouragement of progression within your business. Offering training programs, mentorship opportunities, and career advancement is mutually beneficial. You upskill your team and can deliver a better client experience (that you can charge premium fees for). And your team has a path to help them grow personally and professionally.
3. Live out your company culture
Culture is something that needs to be felt. You can say that it’s something but people need to feel that to believe it is true.
By encouraging open communication, collaboration, and recognition of employee achievements you create a positive and inclusive work environment. One where employees feel valued, appreciated, and supported.
It can be very easy to let things carry on when it feels like things are generally working and going well in the business. Be vigilant and make sure that you are constantly reviewing your firm’s culture. It can feel scary but encourage employee feedback and act on this feedback to continuously improve your employee experience and address any areas of concern.
When you receive positive feedback from the team don’t be afraid to show it. Highlight your company culture, employee testimonials, and any awards or recognition you have received as an employer.
4. Encourage your team to share their experiences
There’s nothing more powerful than social proof. A “team-led firm” is going to be more desirable to an engaged candidate. They want to feel empowered to make their mark. Make an impact in their area and contribute to the business in a positive way.
Get your existing team involved in building your employer brand so potential team members can hear what it’s really like from within. Pull back the curtain a little and encourage your share what life is like at the firm and how they feel about being part of the team. Once you’ve gathered this information you can create powerful written or video testimonials to share on your website or part of a focused hiring campaign.
I recently had a call with team members at Starfish Accounting, to hear about their experience of joining the team. So much incredible marketing gold came out of that session to allow us to help communicate what life at Starfish is really like. Spending that time with the team was so powerful (and we had a lot of fun while we were at it). We’re now able to use what the team shared for testimonials, videos and messaging on their culture hub and social media.
Having the team share their experiences and showing videos of the team throughout your website will help show that you really do mean what you say and follow through on the promises you make.
At PF we have videos of different team members across our website and social platforms. It’s the quickest way to build a connection and it helps applicants see the team they’ll be working with.
During the team interview as part of the hiring process at PF we hear (almost every time) candidates say “I feel like I know you guys already from watching your videos.” These are videos throughout the site as well as part of the hiring process. Here’s an example from Pink Pig Financials:
It’s a big undertaking but you’ve got this!
Building your brand as a good employer is an ongoing effort that requires consistency and dedication. It is important to regularly assess and refine your practices to ensure that you continue to attract and retain top talent.
Attracting the right people who will stay long term means that you can spend more time focused on steering the ship and serving your clients rather than looking at CV’s and worrying that someone else on the team will leave due to carrying extra workload.
If you’re not sure where to start building your employer brand and need some help you’re not alone. Talk to your CMM. And if you’re not a PF client yet, fill in this discovery questionnaire to get started.